A special development order designating the Manston airport site for use as a lorry park to cope with possible post-Brexit jams at the Port of Dover came into effect today (January 24).
The order ‘augments’ the deal to use Manston as a short-term solution for Operation Stack which was first struck with site owners Stone Hill Park in August 2015 following a Summer of disruption due to French strikes and growing migrant camps in Calais.
The aim was to park lorries up at the site and so reduce pressure on the M20. The government extended the deal in November 2017 to run until the end of 2019.
The new order extends the deal until December 31, 2020 with additions to allow work on the site to create a new access, add temporary hardstanding and modifications to the new entrance and create lining and signage.
Some £4.9million will be spent on the work which will increase capacity at the site to hold 6,000 – rather than the initial projection of 4,000 – lorries.
The order follows a trial run of less than 90 HGVs earlier this month from Manston to Dover as part of Kent County Council and the Department of Transport’s Brexit contingency plans.
A Traffic Management Plan has been created to ensure Kent’s highways continue to be open in the event of queuing traffic arising from border changes following the UK’s exit from the European Union on March 29.
It has been forecast that, in a no-deal Brexit scenario, Kent will need to cope with holding up to 10,000 HGVs on a routine basis.
The special development order signed by the DfT Minster of State Jesse Norman was laid before Parliament yesterday.
It includes a “protester policy” setting out information in relation to protesters on the land, including information about criminal offences that may be committed on the land and the mechanism by which matters may be reported to Kent Police.
The order covers the provision of facilities and services for drivers of, and those processing, goods vehicles that will be parked on the site.
The order states: “The planning permission granted by paragraph (1) ceases at the end of 31st December 2020 and immediately thereafter the land reverts to its previous lawful use.”
The order is part of plans for Operation Brock – the updated version of lorry queuing system Operation Stack- which contains 5 phases for dealing with a backlog of HGVs. Phase 1 uses the A20 and Dover and Eurotunnel buffer zones, phase 2 is a contraflow system on the M20, phase 3 uses the A256 and sends up to 6,000 lorries to be parked up on the Manston airport site.
Phase 4 uses the M26 and phase 5 takes traffic out of the county.
An £28.81 million grant from the Department for Transport has been agreed for Kent County Council to pay for preparatory post-Brexit works.
The Manston airport site is currently the subject of a Development Consent Order by firm RiverOak Strategic Partners which wants to gain compulsory buy-out powers over the land.
The firm says it wants to revive aviation at the site with a cargo hub and associated business. But the Manston airport site is owned by Stone Hill Park which has lodged an application to develop housing, leisure and business on the land.